Director of Fun.
That was the title I was looking at on a resume for a marketing director position. As I read through the applicant’s accomplishments and responsibilities, I could see that it was clearly a marketing-type position. It stuck out, just not in a good way.
What may have seemed like a great little thing to have on a business card as an attention-getter had now turned into a liability. Nobody knows what a “Director of Fun” does. And sure, maybe “Marketing Director” isn’t all that specific on its own, but give me some context (industry, company size, and market) and I can pretty quickly figure out what you’re doing.
Using these fun titles externally is a mistake.
What’s in a Title?
Now listen, I’m not a super stickler for titles. I know it’s what you actually do that’s the real important point.
If you’re an HR manager but you’re doing HR assistant work, I’m going to treat you as such (and vice verse as well). And we know title inflation is a big part of the hiring process and it can help make business transactions flow easier. Go into large banks and insurance brokerages, some with hundreds of branches and I’ll bet you find a VP or SVP in the building.
Wacky job titles simply confuse most real people.
So yes, titles can be B.S., but I think most people know that. If you walk into a brokerage and find most people are managers and directors and the top guy is a SVP, you still contextually know people’s roles and who is in charge. It might be a shift in thinking, but you aren’t reinventing the wheel.
Now “Director of Fun”? Or “Corporate Magician”?
Fun titles Not So Fun in the Real World
Some organizations think funky job titles are a great way of expressing a company’s culture or to stand out from the crowd. Moo.com sent over some of the most interesting examples of this. Here are my top 10 head-scratching titles Moo listed, in no particular order:
- Sales Ninja
- New Media Guru
- Social Media Trailblazer
- Corporate Magician
- Master Handshaker
- Communications Ambassador
- Happiness Advocate
- Marketing Rockstar
- Problem Wrangler
- Digital Dynamo
Master handshaker? Problem wrangler? Whose hands do these people shake, and what problems do they wrangle?
In a quote from the press release, Moo.com’s Paul Lewis says,
“Traditional one-word job titles no longer act as an accurate description of what a person does or what they are like. So why not stand out a bit by giving yourself a job title that sums you up as a person rather than limits you to just one aspect of what you do.”
The funny part to me is that Lewis is credited as Head of Marketing (and here, too, on his Twitter profile). And while it may not stick out, I know that he is in charge of marketing. This is helpful if I ever need to get in touch with someone in marketing at Moo.com, or if I ever need to hire someone with some marketing chops.
Taking a Step Back
Fun titles can be great for internal teams. It can help put a fun spin on being at work, especially at some of the less pleasant, white-collar jobs that are out there.
But when it comes to dealing with people outside of the company, it is time to make a decision: do you communicate what you do clearly, or, do you avoid that and try to educate every single person you meet about that fun job title — only to have them forget what you actually do five minutes after they meet you? Or worse, you are mocked for not having a real title and people question your business skills and savvy?
Even the Gen Y guy inside me knows the right answer: you always pick clarity first.
Once a client or business partner gets to know you and your company, they’ll know you’re fun and cool, even in spite of an ordinary job title. And you should be just fine with that.